EDUCATION: A PROFITABLE BUSINESS IN PAKISTAN
Constitution has placed the responsibility of basic education on the state
By ZEESHAN A KHAN
Oct 24 - 30, 2005
"Increasing education cost is eliminating education from the lower and middle income groups."
The time has revolutionized the Pakistani society in last two decades. Traditions have been changed and now we judge everything from monetary aspect. The education sector has also been affected by this trend. There was time when parents could easily support education of their 4 or 5 children within their limited resources. Now, somebody can ask such parents how they fulfill their responsibilities in this regard. Admission fee, course fee, sports fee, registration fee, uniform fee, exam fee, enrolment fee, tuition fee, lab fee, computer fee, transport fee, building maintenance fee, donations etc are few common titles of fetching money from poor parents by many education institutions. Parents wish to educate their dear ones in the best education institution, but the increasing education cost is pointing towards a situation where education will become a luxury. A middle income household cannot think of educating their child in professional institutions. The time is not very far. Still a considerable number of people are unable to let their talented children enrolled in a private professional institution as their fee is beyond their reach.
STATE: RESPONSIBILITIES AND DUTIES:
By constitution, the responsibility of basic education is placed on state. The constitution exactly states that: The State shall:
* Promote, with special care, the educational and economic interests of backward classes or areas.
* Remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory secondary education within minimum possible period.
However, the implementation of law is visible to blinds even. Government education institutions' performance needs no explanation. The disbelief in these education institutions is evident from the fact that high government officials are receiving handsome education allowances for their children, who are enrolled in foreign educational institutions. It is my faith that government can only fulfill its responsibilities, regarding education, when these high officials of government are bind to enroll their children in government education institutes.
The best business in Pakistan is operating a private school. You don't need any degree or qualification, not even a trained staff or teachers. The only requirement of business is a few yards place and an initiating cost. There are no rules to be followed in building design. Thousands of schools are established in 120 yards house, where children need to pass through another class-room to enter their class. I've seen such schools where there is even not sufficient space to stand between blackboard and the first desk. There is no criterion for teaching staff. Little college girls are teaching in these schools. The salary for such teaching staff ranges between Rs.800 to Rs.5000 per month. Such schools are amassing handsome amount under the heads of tuition fee, registration fee, enrolment fee, etc. The worst violation by these schools is that they are getting money in the name of "development charges". Nobody dares to ask them about it. The development is the sole responsibility of school administration and not of parents who are already burdened by unexplained fee and donations.
Government colleges are performing well as compared to government schools. Over last three years, many private colleges have also started operating. Although, most of them are incomparable with the government colleges, their one month fee equals the per annum fee of the government colleges. There is no standard for minimum requirements. Like private schools, they are also receiving fee under different heads.
Pakistan is one of those countries where college dropout rate is extremely high. Most of the students prefer to quit education after college level for many reasons. Among them, most common reason is that they cannot afford such expensive education and they also need to financially support their families. The government universities are very few in the whole country. They cannot accommodate all students passing out from colleges. The second option comes to private institutions where education is so expensive that even middle-class families cannot afford it. A student aiming at a doctor/engineer degree/ IT specialization / social science / Finance degree from a private university knows that his or her parents have to spend hundreds of thousands of rupees for entire degree duration. At this point, most of them choose to quit education and start their professional life. Therefore, education is eliminating from lower and middle class of society. My personal survey of few private universities of Karachi revealed that students are paying Rs.14000 to Rs.75000 per semester for BBA/MBA degree and Rs.12000 to Rs.45000 per semester for IT degree (only tuition fee).
Private universities claim that they are still charging lower than foreign universities. But they forget the standards and quality of education while comparing to foreign universities. They also neglect the average household income of Pakistan and foreign countries in their comparison.
QUALITY OF EDUCATION:
Quality of education includes infrastructure of institution, academic facilities, minimum standards for faculty, libraries, standard labs and extra-curricular activities. All these standards are already defined by International Standards Organization. The quality of education leads to personality development of a student and not only examination success. It seems like Pakistan has to go a long way to achieve quality of education. But at least we have to recognize that education mean development of personality traits.
PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN WHO NEVER ATTENDED SCHOOL BECAUSE OF EXPANSES:
Source: PIHS 2001-02
PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN WHO NEVER ATTENDED SCHOOL BECAUSE OF EXPANSES, BY REGION:
Source: PIHS 2001-02
PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN LEAVING SCHOOL BECAUSE OF EXPANSES:
Source: PIHS 2001-02
PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN LEAVING SCHOOL BECAUSE OF EXPANSES, BY REGION:
Source: PIHS 2001-02
Household annual expenditure per pupil on education - by region and level (mean annual expenditure in rupees - 2001-02 pihs)